Beauty and the Photographic Process

Discussion in 'Philosophy' started by barefoot, May 5, 2004.

  1. Do Beautiful objects/scenes etc make beautiful photographs?

    I read a comment from an ex-member saying that this isn't necessarily
    the case. Putting aside issues concerning the definition of beauty
    and operator skill, if a photograph fails to convey the subject's
    beauty is the photographic process fundamentely flawed?

    I'd be interested in your thoughts.

  2. Check the "top photos" page. So many beautiful scenes, captured in so many uninteresting photos.

    There are exceptions, but nope, i don't think they "make beautiful photographs". They only can help you creating one.

    I think it's the same with people photography, or, in fact, anything else as subject.
  3. Two different questions here. I'll address the second. The purpose of a photograph may not necessarily be to convey beauty. A photographer may wish to portray the banal, the ugly, the damaged. If beauty shows through it may be counterproductive to the photographer's aim.
    I suppose you can redefine beauty so that anything you care to photograph is beautiful, but that's the whole area you wanted to avoid.
  4. Stuart wrote
    Do Beautiful objects/scenes etc make beautiful photographs?
    It was said the Marily Monroe would look good in a flour sack. So a photographer did just that, photographed her in a flour sack. Yeppers! That flour sack did the trick, she looked great!:)
    The point, when an object or person is photogenic or beautiful, it's a lot easier to make the image look beautiful but in the right hands it's very easy to screw it up and ruin the beauty that's before the photographer.
  5. Thomas seems right. I don't like picturing people who are called beautiful. I prefer average; they give me the chance to express something.
  6. if a photograph fails to convey the subject's beauty is the photographic process fundamentely flawed?
    The photographic process is fundamentally limited because it translates a dynamic, three-dimensional world into a static, two-dimensional image. Not all aspects of beauty survive that translation intact (and sometimes that translation reveals beauty that wasn't readily recognizable before). I don't consider that a flaw anymore than I consider my car's inability to fly to be a flaw.
  7. >Do Beautiful objects/scenes etc make beautiful photographs?<

    The only challenge is to discover the beauty.

    >if a photograph fails to convey the subject's beauty is the photographic process fundamentely flawed?<

    Limited, not flawed, and this limitation ceases with the degree of skills the photographer has aquired.
    How limited is the word for expressing beauty and how many Shakespeares or xy were born to transcend its limitation?
  8. Mike was hitting the button earier. :)
  9. I went to small forest (more like natural park now) last weekend planning to make photos. Started to look for a subject to photograph and noticed that at that moment I prefered to enjoy what surraunded ma rather than to photograph it. A single tree alone isn't so scenic, but when you have complete 3 dimentional 360 degrees scene then you see the beauty of the nature. I knew aproximately how all that would look on the photo and decided to make only three shots of something that didn't really look especially beatiful but will on the photo and rest of the day enjoyed what I saw in reality instead of putting it on film.
  10. If a photograph fails to show the inherent beauty of a "beautiful scene", the process didn't fail, the photographer did. Failure to create or wait for the light is the photographer's "fault", not the scene. We know that Yosemite has beautiful scenery, because Ansel Adams and other great photographers have created images to show us. They waited for the light to be right or discarded the poor light shots and kept going back to try again. The scene is beautiful, but not so easily shown by the less diligent or untalented photographer. So, I would say beautiful scenes do not neccessarily make beautiful photographs.

    Or the short answer... NO, photographers make beautiful photographs, beautiful scenery don't know how to use the camera! :)
  11. My own opinion on this is that beautiful scenes, say, do make beautiful pictures if we are prepared to use our imagination to extrapolate from 2-D back to 3-D (i.e. reverse the data compression referred to by Mike).
  12. I think the scene has to be of some interest to the photographer, beauty is not needed. The photographer's challenge perhaps, is to make it beautiful...
  13. We must not confuse taste with judgment, or loveliness with beauty, for as Augustine says,
    "some people like deformities."
  14. jbs


    But of course putting that aside...??? It's always the people not the tool...not flawed only limited. ...;)...J
  15. "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder"

    (1) For the photographer, having beheld their personal vision of beauty, this must then be transferred to film (or digital code). The transfer is largely a technical challenge.

    (2) For the viewer, looking at the print (or slide or screenshot), the beauty must be subsequently beheld by them. This won't work for all viewers, in all cultures, under all circumstances. Such is the aesthetic challenge.

    So, if the "beauty" seen in (1) is communicated as "beautiful" in (2), then the answer to your question is "yes".

    Personally, I often find it more interesting when subjects which would not normally be perceived as beautiful are revealed as such, through the magic of (1), flawlessly communicated in (2).

    Undoubtedly, (1) and (2) taken together are very different to one just viewing a subject. This must be one reason why some people (or scenes) are generally considered more photogenic than other apparently similar ones. This doesn't necessarily make them the "best" ones, however.

    Apologies if I seem to be simply stating the obvious (I'm a teacher!)
  16. Re: "Do Beautiful objects/scenes etc make beautiful photographs?"

    Suppose the "beautiful" object being photographed is a 3D sculpture constructed by someone other than the photographer. The sculpture is graceful in appearance, and the photographs that are taken of it capture that grace and beauty. But is there some achievement here for the photographer to take credit for? After all, someone else created the sculpture, so is the photographer just a workman who has simply depicted someone else's artistic achievement? Or should the photographer, in creating these "beautiful" 2D representations of the 3D sculpture, be credited with his own separate artistic achievement? I hope that my remarks are not consdiered to be too "off topic".

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